Simple steps to help develop a “Now Mindset”

“Forever is composed of nows.” ― Emily Dickinson

One of the biggest questions people ask about Mindfulness, is all around being the in “now”. What on earth is it about? What does it mean and why even think about it?

Practicing Mindfulness helps you to focus on being present in the now. Present moment awareness brings calm, peace and sanity to your life. It exposes your ego and puts you in touch with your true self. It helps you be more connected to both yourself and also to everyone around you.

The present moment is all there ever is. Still, most people ignore it, imagining the future or the past, stuck in their thinking minds.

The present moment is so simple. Its simplicity is masked by the egoic mind – wanting to get to some imaginary point in the future (as if the future will bring more happiness than anything could now), or reliving the past (as if this is more important than now). So many of our problems, traumas, anxieties, fears etc. are all based in our minds. Dwelling in the past, or conditioned by the past and then negatively anticipating “the future”.

Time exists only in the mind. It keeps you from the conscious presence that is who you already are, only available within the present moment.

So how can you become more aware? It does take some time, so be prepared to take a few minutes out of your day to try one of the following:

  • Be aware of what you can see, hear, smell, feel. Take a moment to really concentrate on looking at an object or listen to the sounds going on around you. Perhaps sit outside and feel the breeze on your skin or the smells in the air around you.
  • Be aware of your breath flowing gently in and out of your body. The breathing exercise is one of the fundamentals of Mindfulness practice. For a blog post I wrote on the breath practice, go to: https://martinsummerhayes.com/2016/04/20/the-mindfulness-tool-the-breath/
  • Experience and feel your body from within – for example can you be aware of your legs – as if you are feeling the inside of them? This might sound strange, but try it, and you might be surprised by the results.
  • Can you hear the silence behind any noise that may be there? Listen to the background, as well as the foreground noises.
  • Be aware of space around all things you can see rather than just the things themselves? Look beyond the foreground and look to the background.
  • Finally, can you feel yourself as the awareness behind the thoughts that arise? This is probably the most difficult one to try.

 

Practicing any of these approaches on a regular basis will help put you within the present moment and somewhat out of your mind. Of course the mind may well pull you back in again with some thought, or emotional resistance may arise, but that is the challenge with the mind.

You may notice that as you stay in the present moment, you might become more aware of deeper feelings, thoughts and emotions that you were not aware of before. This is fine, and they are as they are. Allow them to be as well, do not name any emotion or thought – let them be, be the space for them, and see what happens. You may notice as you do this, a sense of peace, aliveness, awareness, however subtle or strong is arising in the background

This practice of present moment awareness and acceptance puts you in touch with what you really are, and sets you free from all the negativity you may be carrying in your mind. There is only this moment, and it is as it is.

I leave you with the following quote.

“Live in the present, remember the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn’t exist and never shall. There is only now.” ― Christopher Paolini, Eldest

Being in the Moment

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

This weekend involved a visit with a young friend to Windsor and Eton. It was cold and dry, with a brisk wind blowing along the river Thames. It is years since I visited Windsor and Eton and wanted to see what had changed in the town as well as spend time by the river.

There’s a newly built precinct filled with lots of upmarket shops and there is the old part of the town near to the castle with the narrow streets and cobbled areas. It really is an eclectic mix of old and new. As it was a Saturday, the town was filled with shoppers and tourists. There were many different nationalities in the town and it was a pleasant surprise to see so many people out and about despite the cold windy day.

My friend & I grabbed a coffee and a sandwich, sat for a while chatting and the decided to go for a walk along the river.

It was bitterly cold. The wind was blowing along the river and despite the number of swans and ducks on the river bank, there were very few people out and about either feeding the birds or walking along the river.

We walked away from the town towards the sports centre and then turned back. It was at this point that I noticed that there was a fountain in a nearbypark. The fountain in question is the Jubilee fountain, erected to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee. The fountain is 25m long with a circular pool at the centre. In the middle of the pool is a geyser with a “crown” of 60 water jets.

We sat on a bench and watched the fountain as it jetted water into the air. For ten minutes we sat in quiet contemplation; watching the jets along the length of the fountain.

Being in the moment, I noticed that each single jet did not repeat the symmetry of the water as it was jetted into the air. The effect of the wind and the weather obviously has an effect. Perhaps there are pressure differentials. Who knows.

What I noticed was that moment, to moment, every single jet was unique. The motion of the water was wonderful to see. I pointed it out to my friend and we continued to sit for a few moments, observing the fountain in motion.

I took a short – 15 second video of the fountain to save the memory. You can see the video the link below. If you watch closely you too will see that the vertical jets at the front do not repeat and are uniquely jetting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN7OYcH_XMo

I leave you with the following quote:

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”― Alan W. Watts

Present Moments

“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

 

The narrative: After a manic work week, the weekends come around and are gone very quickly. We try to cram into the space of two days, events and activities that we could take more time over. For this past weekend, I was determined would be different. After a very hectic and stressful week in the work world, I wanted to recharge myself and also take some time out.

So what was I going to do?

On Meetup [an online local group network], there was an advert for a sound meditation session in Oxford. Combining a trip to Oxford; which is only 20 minutes away from my home; with chance to experience a different type of meditation seemed like a great plan. A quick ten minutes on the internet booking my place and checking where I could park; nowhere local to the event it would seem; and I left.

These days, I am much more relaxed about doing things on the spur of the moment. Maybe, it is because with Mindfulness, I am trying to be more mindful and live in the present moment and do things on the spur of the moment. I don’t know. Anyway, back to the story.

Oxford city has been trying for a number of years to make it the city centre more environmentally friendly. As a result, cars are banned from the city centre and instead you are encouraged to park on the outskirts and get a “Park and Ride” trip on a bus into the city centre. Before you make the comment that buses are big polluters too, they are replacing the diesel busses with electric ones.

I got to the “Park and Ride”, paid the £2 to park and £2.60 for a return trip on the bus. Fifteen minutes later and I got off the bus in the city centre and walked for ten minutes to the meditation meetup.

The session was fantastic and a really different way to experience meditation. Rather than sitting in silence, you lie on the floor on a mat and experience the sound waves. It was over far too quickly for me, and I left feeling invigorated and really open and alive.

A quick walk along the high street to a local supermarket where I picked up some lunch was followed by a leisurely stroll to Magdalen Bridge where I sat to twenty minutes or so, eating my lunch and watching the world go by.

 

Present Moments: As I sat there, I felt each moment as it came. The couple walking together with an old fashioned Oxford style bike. The group of girls dressed up. The chap in a mortar and cape, with a pink carnation. It did not matter it was not sunny and it was spotting with rain. Nor did the sight and sound of the cars and busses going past disturb that moment. Moment by moment. Feeling alive and grounded.

Having finished my lunch, I then had to make a decision. Walk to the nearest bus stop to get the “Park and Ride” bus back to the car park or walk?

Without really thinking about how long it would take, I decided to walk back to the car park. It was a wonderful walk back. People would pass me, either walking or on cycles. Occasionally, one of the bus’s I was supposed to get a lift on would go past. At no point did I think about sticking out my arm to flag one down.

Approximately an hour later I was back at the car. Still refreshed. Still relaxed. And certainly in the present moment. Something so simple as a walk. Someone commented on the photo I posted with: “No city should be so big that you can’t walk out of it in a morning” Cyril Connelly. I would completely agree.

By the way. The photo I used for this is the famous “Flying shark”. If you want to read more, go to:

http://www.headington.org.uk/shark/

I leave you with the following quote:

“Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering” Ida Scott Taylor